Ghosting, Breadcrumbs, and Gaslighting

And How to Handle Them

There is no doubt that social media has changed our interpersonal interactions and not always for the better. When it comes to relationships and dating, the internet has expanded our options exponentially which could provide access to the love of your life several states away. Unfortunately, this additional reach also invites more of the wrong people to have access to us.

By now, everyone has an idea of what ghosting is. Simply put, someone seems to have an interest in you and things appear to be progressing in a positive direction and then, suddenly, they go dark. They don’t text or call and stop responding to your attempts to reach out. So, why do people ghost? In many cases, for one reason or another, the person who is ghosting has decided not to proceed with the relationship but fears confrontation so they cut off all communication. They may feel guilty for initiating the contact and then changing their minds and simply don’t want any repercussions for their behavior. If you’ve been ghosted, move on. There won’t be closure. Simply understand that being ghosted is not a reflection on you. It’s a reflection of them.

Breadcrumbs are the texts, messages, and comments on social media posts that someone leaves to give the impression that they’re interested in you. The problem with breadcrumbs comes in when the person leaving them has no intentions of moving forward into a face to face relationship. Breadcrumbs are a vague way of leading someone on. The messages are sporadic and just when you think the person has lost interest, they pop up on your social media again to keep you on the hook.

 There are several reasons why people leave breadcrumbs. In some cases, the person is healing from a breakup and wants to feel validated by communicating with someone else. They may also be looking for an ego boost for other personal reasons. In many cases, they are leaving breadcrumbs for multiple people so that they can feel good about themselves when their inbox is full of messages from people who find them attractive. If you’re getting messages from someone and they don’t start discussing a meet up after three messages, it’s best to not get emotionally attached to this person and move on.

And, finally, gaslighting. Gaslighting is a key indicator of a toxic relationship. When someone gaslights, they cause their partner to question reality. They twist the narrative to make others question their thoughts, feelings, actions and memories in order to control them in some way. Gaslighter want to play victim when they, in fact, are the manipulator. It is a common trait of narcissists who disregard their partners wants and needs and make them feel shellfish for having them. If you are certain about your thoughts, feelings or account of a particular incident but find yourself questioning your view of reality after discussing it with your partner, you may be the victim of gaslighting.

I had the misfortune of being involved with a gaslighter for several years and can say from my own experience that I had no idea that he was manipulating the narrative until after the relationship ended. I reflected on the many times that he had made me feel guilty for pointing out his behavior and somehow convinced me to take blame for his wrong doing. It was a hard lesson to learn and a relationship trap that I will never fall in to again.

As interactions become more virtual, we will coin more phrases to define peoples evolving online behavior. On the bright side, we’ll be able to access this information and arm ourselves so that we don’t waste our time on people who aren’t really interested in committing to a relationship.

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